For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines.
—Hebrews 12:6

How do we reconcile a good and loving God with the evil that is in the world? We have to understand that much of the suffering in our world today is self-inflicted.

Suffering is the price we continue to pay for our freedom to choose between good and evil. Sometimes our wrong choices result in God’s direct judgment against us. In Deuteronomy 28:15, God gave the Israelites this warning: “If you do not obey the Lord your God, to observe to do all His commandments and His statutes with which I charge you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you.” Then He lists the judgments. And God does that as well to us. Not because He hates us, but because, as the Bible says, “For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines” (Hebrews 12:6). Much of the suffering we experience is a direct result of our disobedience to God. And sometimes our suffering is a result of natural laws God has placed in effect. For example, people can experience illness because of wrong dietary or lifestyle choices, and people can suffer financial hardship because of choices they made with their finances. Now that is not true in every case, but in many cases people are simply reaping what they have sown.

Why does God allow His children to experience suffering? God uses short-term suffering to accomplish long-term good. There’s a famous analogy in philosophy that is used to explain how suffering is often a case of perspective: A hunter goes into the woods and sees a bear caught in a trap. Obviously the bear is hurting and the hunter desires to release him from the trap. But as the hunter approaches the bear, the bear has no idea what the hunter is doing. Thinking that the hunter is trying to kill him, he growls and tries to keep him away. Sympathizing with the bear’s plight, the hunter shoots him with a tranquilizer dart. When the bear feels the dart hitting him, he is sure the hunter is trying to harm him. As the hunter approaches, the bear watches as the hunter takes his paw and pushes it farther into the bear trap, trying to release the tension of the spring in order to remove the paw. As the hunter pushes that paw further into the bear trap increasing the pain, the bear is convinced that the hunter is up to no good. But the bear has judged the situation prematurely. If he would wait a little longer, he would understand what the hunter is up to. The same thing is true in our relationship with God. Every dart of adversity we feel, every push by the Hunter deeper into suffering, convinces us that God is up to no good. The problem is, we are judging God prematurely. If we would simply wait, we would understand what God is up to in our lives. Suffering is a matter of perspective.

***
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Healing Words for Hurting Hearts” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2008.

Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.